Yesterday I saw the sun. It came out to greet me on my first day back in Alaska in three and a half years! Downtown Anchorage looks pretty much the same. That’s one of the awesome things about Alaska, while the rest of the world seems to be changing at a frenzied pace, Alaska (well at least Anchorage) not so much. There’s something very comforting about that. It was nice of the sun to greet me, it’s gone away now and according to the weather app on my phone, I’m never ever going to see it again.
Not to worry, it’s Alaska and you can’t let the weather stop your adventures, you just have to go to the North Face store and buy lots of expensive waterproof stuff.
I woke up this morning with a vague idea of what I was going to do. What’s a visit to Anchorage without a drive down the Seward Highway. I should know by now that a drive in Alaska no matter where it is will always surprise you with unexpected, really cool shit.
The Seward Highway is arguably one of the most scenic costal highways in the world. I’ve seen Beuluga whales, Dall sheep and an occasional moose, today I saw none of those things, but other wonders were waiting I turned left at a sign that said Portage Glacier, drove down a random road and at the end of it was a boat, a boat that was leaving in ten minutes for a one hour tour of the glacier. Clearly I was meant to get on that boat.
The beautiful Portage Glacier, was followed by one of the most unique drives I’ve ever done to the town of Whittier. Why unique? Whittier is accessible by boat, plane and a 2 1/2 mile railroad tunnel that’s shared with the Alaska Railoroad. Every hour on the half hour you can enter Whittier and every hour on the hour, you can leave Whittier It’s a very strange feeling driving on railroad tracks through a train tunnel thats been blasted out of solid rock.
Whittier is an extremely unique town. Shortly after the Japanese attack on the Aleutian Islands during WWII, the U.S. began looking for a place to build a secret military installation. Whittier would be considered uninhabitable by most standards, surrounded by 3500 ft peaks. The army maintained Whittier until 1968, it’s now a bizarre mix of things— fishing harbor, abandoned WWII buildings, gift shops and a port for the Alaska Marine Ferry. There’s also a very weird pedestrian tunnel, which much to my surprise was one of the day’s highlights.